Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Statehouse Live: Opponents of anti-union bill say it could shut down nearly all union political speech

February 5, 2013, 10:27 a.m. Updated February 5, 2013, 6:17 p.m.


— Opponents of an anti-union bill said Tuesday they fear the measure could prevent public sector employee unions from nearly all political speech.

Rebecca Proctor, an attorney who specializes in labor law, told the Senate Commerce Committee that the bill could prevent state workers from participating in the political process through public union political action committees.

“This bill is insidious,” Proctor said. “It will completely silence the voice of many public employees.”

House Bill 2023 was approved last week by the House and is now being heard in the Commerce Committee.

Much of the debate about the bill has centered on how it would affect the Kansas National Education Association. The measure would prohibit teachers from making voluntary paycheck deductions into the KNEA’s political action committee.

But the second part of HB 2023 deals with all other public sector employees, such as state and local workers.

That portion of the bill states that public employee organizations would be prohibited from spending any income from dues or any periodic payment for political activities. The bill expands the definition of political activities to include union activities to influence any election.

Proctor said the bill essentially dismantles public union political action committees.

“You are silencing those who are at the heart of government,” Proctor told the Commerce Committee. “Why wouldn’t you want these people’s input?”

Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, argued that teachers and other public employees receive tax dollars and sometimes they lobby for policies that taxpayers don’t want.

But Proctor said once the employees are paid, that money belongs to them, not the taxpayers, and the employees should be able do what they want with their money.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, who opposes the bill, said Proctor’s testimony raised serious concerns about whether the measure would stifle free speech rights. He urged the committee to send the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it could be vetted by attorneys on that panel.

Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, asked the committee staff to research whether the bill would prohibit a government employee from participating in or donating to a political action committee.

Supporters of the bill, including the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, are scheduled to testify today. In the House, supporters of the measure said it was necessary to prevent teachers from feeling like they are being coerced to join the association. But opponents say no one is pressured to join the KNEA or public unions.


Dan Eyler 1 year, 2 months ago

This is funny. To believe the teachers and their unions will have no voice if this bill passes. All you have to do is open your check book and start writing. Go to your bank and set up a direct deposit from your checking account straight to your unions checking account so they can spend you money. What will happen is the teachers union will now have to convince you that writing that check is worth your while. They are going to have to work for it. The unions will have to tell you now what they are going to spend your hard earned money on. That has been the problem with private unions, they are not able to convince people that those union dues are worth it. I am anxious to see how this works out for the teachers unions.


KSManimal 1 year, 2 months ago

Let's pretend for a second that this bill really IS about protecting employee's paychecks from deductions that are subsequently used for political purposes that the employee doesn't agree with.....

Lawrence's school teachers can have payroll deduction for Coventry Health Care insurance premiums. The district is "burdened" with this deduction on behalf of the employees - an expense to taxpayers, according to "logic".

Coventry is a "cornerstone member" of the KS Chamber of Commerce - meaning they've given at least $5,000 to the chamber.....This money is then used to lobby in favor of legislation such as HB 2023....which is overwhelmingly opposed by public employees.

So....I'm sure we can expect another bill soon to protect public employees from such atrocities....right? No more voluntary payroll deduction for paying insurance premiums!!!!

Then ditto for annuities, flex spending accounts, etc., etc.,......right? After all, those finance companies spend big bucks lobbying..... Who will protect employees' paychecks from their own choices to give money to those companies? Who?????


autie 1 year, 2 months ago

Prof Sea, your position is bull butter. Once those dollars are paid to an employee, those dollars have lost all public identity and is private from hence on. To think otherwise is absolutely reprehensible. To follow your logic the legislature can procede to pass bills telling all public employees how they can spend their money. Maybe ban them from buying beer or cigarettes. Or a candy bar. This is yet another attempt of intelluctual dishonesty promoted to disenfranchise the 1st amendment rights of people who serve their communities. Shameful behavior.


ProfessorSeamus 1 year, 2 months ago

I can't believe it, but I think I am in total agreement with Senator Wagle on this. Once you accept taxpayer money, you should forfeit your right to take any public position or make any public statement that the electorate may not agree with absolutely. My problem is that the list of restricted parties is too short. I would add the following recipient of taxpayer funding who should be silenced: Susan Wagle.


Scut Farkus 1 year, 2 months ago

A lot of comments and a lot of whining by Democrats. This is a national Republican initiative (see Wisconsin, Michigan, etc.) and a very smart one as well. The unions are a primary ground support group for the Democrats. Their ability to organize and disperse information is critical to Democratic strategies. The Republican party is one more election away from total collapse. If they don't make changes in states they control i.e. union restrictions and redistricting, they may never recover.


grandnanny 1 year, 2 months ago

This bill is clearly unconstitutional. I have a question for all the legislators who vote for it. Where does your money come from? Oh, the taxpayers. So when does it become your money? You don't vote the way I want you to so you should not be allowed to vote on any bill. In fact, since you get taxpayer money, you shouldn't be allowed to voice your opinion at all. How is it that the Chamber of Commerce, which is also tax-exempt, gets to run Kansas government? I am currently investigating what businesses belong to the Kansas Chamber of Commerce because they will no longer be getting my business. Any teacher who cares about their job should do the same.


midwest_muser 1 year, 2 months ago

"Nearly all"? So there's still room to improve the bill?


fearthetaliban 1 year, 2 months ago

Charles Koch doesn't want public unions in KS. Done deal


voevoda 1 year, 2 months ago

Proposed legislation of this sort illustrates very well why public employees need to have unions to represent their interests.


JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 2 months ago

What a teacher chooses to do with money they earn from their job is nobody's business. Ksdot hires engineering firms and construction contractors who are paid with tax dollars. Some of that money without doubt ends up at the ks chamber...should they be stripped of their free speech rights too? Goose and gander...


bobberboy 1 year, 2 months ago

It's amazing to me how Mike Oneal thinks he's still running the show.


rockchalk1977 1 year, 2 months ago

How does the Democrat union money laundering scheme work? The best example is probably the 2009 stimulus (aka porkulus) bill. By law, Obama couldn't have proposed giving porkulus money directly to the Democrats for use in the 2010/2012 elections. Instead, Obama laundered the money through the public employees unions. Here's the scam... (1) Employees pay taxes. (2) Congress gives those taxes to Obama in the porkulus bill. (3) Obama distributes the money to state and local governments to pay employees. (4) These employees can keep their jobs only as members of a union where they are forced to pay dues. (5) Union dues are funneled directly to the Democratic Party in the form of campaign contributions. Thus, the circle of money is complete. Yes it is outrageous and must be stopped!


gatekeeper 1 year, 2 months ago

The Free Dictionary: fascism/corporatism is "an attempt to create a 'modern' version of feudalism by merging the 'corporate' interests with those of the state."

American Heritage Dictionary: fascism is: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

Starting to sound familiar to what's happening in this state???

So many people don't know their history. Anyone here remember that Hitler abolished all unions? If you don't know your history, google German Labour Front and enlighten yourself.

I am always amazed, but not surprised, that most American's have no clue about the past. What KS and other states have been trying to do to unions reaks of fascism.

Please people, learn your history and stop trusting these idiots in office that keep telling you to move along, nothing to see here and just do as we tell you to do cuz we've got your best interests at heart. Guess what, they don't. They're only interest is in money, not the common people. Corporations are allowed free speech, but they're doing their best to stop the people from having free speech.


James Nelson 1 year, 2 months ago

It very much looks like Kansas has been producing some of the dumbest kids in the United States for at least two generations. When you have grown ups act as stupidly and as ignorant as a majority of our elected officials have over this bill it just makes you wonder out loud "How in the hell did we ever get this far." And then you realize how much more progress we might have realized if these idiots had never been elected in the first place.

I apologize to the many very good teachers in Kansas for the first sentence. Maybe its just a case of those of the overly conservative persuasion just being unfit for learning. That probably explains why they fight so hard against wanting Kansas kids to get the best education possible.


Centerville 1 year, 2 months ago

How is it free speech to have to give a union your earnings?


Wayne66 1 year, 2 months ago

I have no problem with the first part where they are no longer allowed to use dues, fees, assessments or any periodic payments deducted from a member's paycheck. If the union wants to be political they can solicit my contributions directly. The section on not being allowed to have political speech won't last the first court battle.


bd 1 year, 2 months ago

Not all teachers/public employees are Democrates!!!!!!!!!!!!


whateverittakes1 1 year, 2 months ago

The Republican party trying to suppress unions doesn't surprise me. Anything to weaken workers' rights seems to be what Republicans are all about. Next, they will eliminate OSHA so workers will once again have dangerous workplaces like during the industrial revolution. Before you know it, we will be back to sixteen hour days with no weekends or holidays to be with family or have a life. In time, workers will be chained to their desks or assembly area 24/7 and the corporate owners will say "We own you. You no longer have a personal life. You are our slaves." That is how the Repubs want it because they want their Gilded Age to return. That is the time between the Civil War and the Great Depression, and that kind of economy CAUSED the Great Depression because there was no middle-class, only a few rich and a lot of very poor people. Maybe we need to just let the very conservative Republican legislature here in Kansas know on no uncertain terms that if they take away any workers' rights, they will be at the receiving end of a civil revolt.


Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

More than one political theorist has opined that the political continuum is not a straight line, but instead, a circle, and that ultimately the two ends--far right and far left--converge at a point of complete totalitarianism. In this regard, the far right of the republican party are in actually RINO's, as their attempts to suppress American's most cherished liberty--the freedom of speech--puts them in bed with both fascists and communists.

Shame on them. They are nothing but traitors to the U.S. Constitution and to every American who believes in freedom. .

If I were King I would deport every last far right Republican scoundrel (and those on the far left as well) to the country of their choice--North Korea or Afghanistan.


rockchalk1977 1 year, 2 months ago

The Democrat union money laundering scheme must be stopped at all costs. If liberals are this outraged... it must be good for Kansas. Keep up the good fight Susan et al.


Centerville 1 year, 2 months ago

This article is completely and purposefully misleading. (No surprise, I know.) This bill doesn't prohibit anyone from giving money to any union or any candidate or any cause. it gets the state out of being a dues collector for the unions. If the unions were that great, their members should be happy to support them.
As far as that goes, I'd like to see all tax withholding abolished, too. As it does with with union dues, tax withholding hides the weekly reminder that your wages are going to someone who didn't earn them.


Liberty275 1 year, 2 months ago

""You are silencing those who are at the heart of government," Proctor told the Commerce Committee. "Why wouldn't you want these people's input?""

While we are at it, we should also get input on chicken coop construction from coyotes.

Besides, no person is being silenced. No American can be silenced. Unions are getting the same treatment that churches have endured due to their tax exempt status. Goose, meet gander.


costello 1 year, 2 months ago

So, anyone paid with tax dollars foreits their free speech rights, and yet we have this abomination: (job protection for persons elected or appointed to the state legislature) requiring employers to rehire former legislators at the same pay and responsibility level upon legislative retirement or failure to win re-election.


Karl_Hungus 1 year, 2 months ago

"argued that teachers and other public employees receive tax dollars and sometimes they are pushing for policies that taxpayers don't want"

You mean they will be told how they can spend their PAYCHECK....this is well beyond WTF territory. All of these actions to stop another "undesirable" from winning the election...yep, that is what I fought for....awesome. Thanks for killing America and turning it into Merica!

Al- Qaeda is less of a terrorist threat than the Neocons of the GOP


UneasyRider 1 year, 2 months ago

Would someone explain to Wagle that all teachers and all union members are also taxpayers.


Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

"Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, argued that teachers and other public employees receive tax dollars and sometimes they are pushing for policies that taxpayers don't want."

Well, Susie, if the taxpayers don't want certain policies, then arguably the lawmakers won't support them, and the union would just be wasting their its time, effort, and money. Who are you to dictate how an individual or an organization should spend their hard earned money?

This naked suppression of free speech borders on fascism.

The intellectual dishonesty of the Republicans is appalling. Sadly, I guess Hitler was right. Tell a lie often enough and people will start believing it.

The only saving grace is that this law clearly violates the First Amendment and will be struck down by the Courts. What aspect of the Citizen's United decision do these idiots not understand?


KSManimal 1 year, 2 months ago

Which of these things is not like the others?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  • 1st Amendment, US Constitution

“It is unconstitutional to ban free speech through the limitation of independent communications by corporations, associations, and unions. Corporations and labor unions may spend their own money to support or oppose political candidates.”

  • US Supreme Court, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission

“It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employee organization to endorse candidates, or spend any of its income, including any income in the form of or derived from any dues, fees, assessments or any other periodic payments, directly or indirectly, to engage in political activities”

  • Kansas House Bill 2023, passed January 31st, 2013

KSManimal 1 year, 2 months ago

"Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, argued that teachers and other public employees receive tax dollars and sometimes they are pushing for policies that taxpayers don't want."

Wagle, you ignorant c..orporate puppet. Once that money is PAID to the EMPLOYEES in exchange for their no longer belongs to anyone else.

Or, perhaps if you think that money is still taxpayer'd be OK with public employees no longer paying taxes on any of it? Yeah, that's what I thought.


UltimateGrownup 1 year, 2 months ago

This article is fake. The bill will not prohibit any union member from donating a penny to their union. It merely forbids that this be done via paychecks. The unions may continue to speak out however they like. This does raise an issue about excess pay, however. If teachers have so much pay coming in that they don't miss a few thousand every year to accommodate union slush funds and political ads, then they're hardly hurting for income.


costello 1 year, 2 months ago

"Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, argued that teachers and other public employees receive tax dollars and sometimes they are pushing for policies that taxpayers don't want."

Are they seriously this stupid?


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